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A couple in their late 20's came into the store the other day. It was late in the day and the store was relatively empty so it was just the three of us with the cheese case separating us. They approached the counter and she said, "We've never tasted cheese before. May we try brie?" Imagine that. Imagine having the courage to approach a counter with 250 cheeses and confess ignorance and a willingness to try what many would consider a simple cheese. I thought it was the best question I ever heard behind the counter. Dutifully, I gave them a sample and their response was, "It's wonderful!" Now we all were smiling. They purchased a small amount and went on their way.

I relayed this story to a friend and he noted that brie is wonderful - and amazing. He's right. All too often we want the newest or latest cheese. We constantly want to push the envelope and expand our horizons. Now there's nothing wrong with trying something new - our friendly couple sure didn't' have a problem with it - but there is also nothing wrong with trying something 'old'. Huzzah to brie!

See you at the store

The Seattle Cheese Festival is coming soon! May 14th and 15th are this year's dates. This is our 7th year as host of this renowned event and we're happy to say it will be our best. As well as the hundreds of cheeses to sample, we will offer a Wine Garden, Fresh Mozzarella-Making Demonstrations, Chef Demonstrations and fascinating Educational Seminars.
Visit the Seattle Cheese Festival web site to sign-up.

In addition, we are conducting our annual Grilled Cheese Sandwich Contest. Winner gets fame and an opportunity to present the winning recipe on stage at the Chef Demo booth. Local chefs will compete for your vote of their version of the grilled cheese sandwich as they participate in our Cheese Fest Best event. And that's not all! DeLaurenti will have a booth on the street dedicated to selling our favorite grilled cheese sandwich. All the information is at seattlecheesefestival.com so check it out. Finally, we are always looking for wonderful volunteers at the Cheese Festival. A cool t-shirt and good feeling are the rewards. Sign-ups are at the site.


What's New in the Deli

With all that nostalgia, let's talk about what's new. (What a hypocrite, right?)

FraMani Mortadella

We are carrying FraMani straight (no pistachios) Mortadella and Pancetta now. We also brought in their "Little Ham". These are wonderful products and they complement the traditional salami's Fra mani is famous for. Another little change is our move toward Molinari Salami. We are offering their Hot Salami, Italian Dry and their Toscano (We've carried their Finocchiona for several years.) We think you'll enjoy the differences.

Colombier is back - thank goodness. This is a hand-molded, trapezoidal cone of raw goat's milk from the Loire. Aged less than 2 months and perfect with Sauvignon Blanc or Gamay Noir. If this doesn't catch your interest, check your pulse. So you like a strong blue cheese but are partial to the Italians. Well Connie has found the cheese for you. Blu Valchiusella is very much like Valdeon from Spain: both are sheep/cow blends, both are wrapped in chestnut leaves and both are strong blue cheeses. Valchiusella is from Turin, Peidmont. Finally, from Basilicata (the arch of the boot), we have the Canestrato di Moliterno. (BTW- "Canestrato" simply refers to the shape of the cheese wheel. Canestrato wheels are typically 5-6 pounds and run 7-8" in diameter and are aged around 6 months.) This guy is a firm, unctuous sheep/goat blend and tastes rich and nutty. Since the folks in Moliterno in Basilicata have been making cheese for 400 years, you know it's good!

What's New on the Shelves

Nate's eating his way across Spain and France for the next couple of weeks so while he's gone, we're buying what we want! Check out our complete line of Valrhona chocolate bars. Famous for their baking chocolate and their narrow line of dark chocolates for years, Valrhona now creates an interesting line of bars. We have a couple of their milk chocolate bars (Jivana and Tanariva) as well as a nice compliment of their dark bars (Guanaja, Abinao and Caraibe). They may be a big producer but they sure make fabulous chocolate. BTW - the Tanariva is a favorite - it is caramelized!

Riso Nero Venere from Principato di Lucedio is new for us. "Venus Black Rice" is actually a new variety of rice grown in the Po Valley. It's a cross between Italian and Chinese rice seeds. As you expect, it's a black rice and is 'healthier' than straight white rice. Cook it like any brown rice and add some crushed garlic, diced onion and a little butter. Finish it with sea salt and fine Extra Virgin Olive Oil and that could be dinner. Lastly, check out the Steven Smith Iced Teas we just brought in. Honey Bush, Black Cap and White Petal are your options. We've had tremendous success with his teas in our café and these bottled cold teas are wonderful as well. Perfectly balanced with minimal sweetness. They're good.


What's New in Wine

You may have heard of Leonetti Wines. That's the good news. The other good news is we have just received our allotment of their current releases (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot). The bad news is we didn't get much of it. Also new in this week is the Stevens 424. Hailing from Yakima (please don't hold that against them), the Stevens clan produces a true Bordeaux blend (Cab, Cab Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot).

If you've read this far down before, you will recognize my affinity for Italian wines that begin with the letter "B". Now is a good time to check out the Noblest of them all - Brunello di Montalcino. Made with Sangioveserosso to exacting specifications, there is no finer wine in the world and we proudly have a nice assortment from the most recent "classic" vintage, 2004. Col d'Orcia, Caprili and Capanna Brunellos (I couldn't resist the alliteration) are currently in stock as well as several others. These are beautiful representations of Old World wine.

Upcoming Wine Tasting

26 March
Covington Wines from Washington State. We'll have a surprise guest from the winery on hand - exciting!

2 April
Italian favorites from our friends Elliot Bay

9 April
Daedelus, from Oregon, will be here. Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and then some. All great!

16 April
More Italian - why not?

23 April
Chateau St. Martin will be here presenting fine French wines before the Easter Holiday.

30 April
Beer along with fancy Mac & Cheese. Fear not, the beer will be fancy, too.


Recipe: Asparagus & Pancetta Risotto

Fresh local asparagus is now available in the Market. Literally, it came out today. This is a great recipe to highlight this green harbinger of Spring!

In a medium saucepan, sauté the pancetta in a little oil and set aside. On a baking sheet, drizzle 2 Tbsp olive oil and a large pinch sea salt over the laid-out asparagus. Bake at 400 for 3-5 minutes - until crispy. Remove from oven and chop asparagus. Set aside.

In that same saucepan, over medium-high heat, sauté the shallots, remaining oil and butter until translucent. Add Arborio rice and stir. You are toasting the rice for about 2 minutes. Add the wine and reduce for 1 minute. Begin adding the chicken stock one ladle-full at a time - just enough to cover the rice. Stirring constantly, add a ladle of chicken stock when you can see the bottom of the pan as you drag your wooden spoon through the risotto. Cover the rice with the stock and repeat this process for 20-25 minutes. You want to take the risotto off the heat 30 seconds before you think it is done. Add the cheese and stir in. Risotto will continue to cook from remaining heat. Add asparagus and pancetta. Serve IMMEDIATELY. In fact, call the kids and tell them to get what they want to drink when you are a couple minutes out from finishing the risotto. You want two cheeks on chairs when the dish is finished. The crew needs to eat this when it's hot!

Serves 4

  • 2 cups Arborio Rice

  • 1/2 lb Fresh Asparagus

  • 1/3 lb Pancetta, diced

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 5 cups chicken broth

  • 1 medium shallot (diced)

  • 2 Tbsp butter

  • 4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano

  • Coarse Seat Salt

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